What does it do? Well, the lymph system works very closely with many systems in the body. The basic function of the lymph system is to aid the bodies immune system in destroying bad stuff, (aka, pathogens) and filtering the yuck so that the lymph can be renewed and returned to the circulatory system via the subclavian vein in the neck. It also helps in remove excess fluids, dead blood cells, toxins (sludge), cancer cells and other waste matter from the lymph cells and frees up the soft tissue space between them. It also works with the circulatory system in providing oxygen, nutrients and hormones from the blood to the other cells that make up the tissues of the body.
In lymph edema, an area of the body where lymph tissue has been damaged or compromised from pathogens or scar tissue- the lymph is unable to drain properly. This is why areas near the neck, throat, armpit and groin can sell during immune compromised times. With in these swollen tissues, the lymph becomes slow, clogged or stagnant.
Since the lymph system does not have a pump, it sometimes and more often than not needs a little bit of encouragement from us. There are some things that can help move lymph move in it’s one-way valve system upwards towards the subclavian vein and ultimately back into the circulatory system.
Inversions – taking the legs above the heart. Many yoga poses can assist with this as well as just putting your feet up on some pillows after a long day. Be aware that this is not recommended for those who have high blood pressure or glaucoma.
Massage and Self Massage – Manual Lymphatic Drainage or MLD treatment is a gentle technique to stimulate the movement of lymph. Light and rhythmic strokes in areas where lymph nodes live (neck, armpit, and groin area) can be very helpful.
Hydrotherapy – Hot and cold treatments help in expanding and contracting blood vessels in the body which will aid in pumping fluids through the tissues of the body.
Lebed Method – Lebed Method is group exercise class geared at moving lymph through out the whole body. Lebed Method taught by skilled Lebed teachers that are educated in lymph function and movement. The SAC offers Lebed classes on Mondays 4:00-5:00pm and Thursdays 4:30-5:30pm taught by Barbra Miller, one of our wonderful PFT’s.
Feel free to ask any of our health professionals if you have any questions about the amazing lymph system and remember to have fun in your body!